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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Golf: Thongchai makes history in Cambodia

SIEM REAP, Cambodia : Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee was in a class of his own as he cruised to an unprecedented 13th Asian Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open on Sunday.

The untouchable three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner posted a final-round seven-under-par 65 to win the 300,000-dollar event in Siem Reap by four shots with a four-day total of 267.

Japan's Kenichi Kuboya, who had held the lead for three rounds, had to settle for a disappointing second place after signing off with a 70 for a 271 total at the Phokeethra Country Club.

"I played really solid all week and I've no complaints. This is my second win at the Johnnie Walker Cambodia Open and I'm really proud of myself," said Thongchai.

There was little to choose between him and Kuboya until the Japanese made a costly mess at the par-three 14th with a double bogey, giving Thongchai a three-shot lead.

Thongchai stormed home convincingly with three birdies in his last three holes to secure his first win this season and a record 13th career title on the Asian Tour.

"If I continue my good form, there is a good chance of winning again next week," said Thongchai of his title aspirations at next week's Black Mountain Masters in Hua Hin in his homeland, the Asian Tour's season finale.

South Korea's Kim Hyung-Sung returned with a 72 to take third place on 273 while India's Anirban Lahiri and Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands took a share of fourth place on matching 274s.

Australia's Marcus Both, together with Malaysia's Iain Steel and Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng, took equal sixth on 275.

While Lahiri's hopes of winning his maiden Asian Tour title did not materialise this week, he was able to take comfort with his solid play that led him to this third top-10 finish this season.

"I only made one mistake today, a triple bogey on the seventh hole but I'm really proud that I made four birdies in a row after that to come back into it," said Lahiri.

Steel could only rue his calamitous hole at the 14th during his opening round, where he recorded an eight which cost him his chance of winning his maiden Asian Tour title.

"It was just one bad hole which cost me the tournament this week. Apart from that, it was a birdie-fest," said the Malaysian.

- AFP/ms
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Buddhist pilgrims of five ASEAN nations to get visa on arrival

The government has decided to extend visa on arrival facility to Buddhist pilgrims coming from five more ASEAN countries-Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

The scheme would be operational from January 1,2011," the Ministry of Tourism has said.

The single-entry visa, to be issued at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports, will ne valid for a month.

"The decision was taken after due discussion with the ministries of External Affairs and Home. A formal announcement in this regard will be made soon," an official said.

It is expected that this facility will attract more Buddhist pilgrims.

Earlier, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Finland and Luxembourg were extended the visa on arrival facility.

The International Finance Corporation and the Ministry of Tourism have inked an agreement under which the IFC has been given the responsibility of developing the Buddhist circuit in India. (ANI)
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